RELATED: Find your place in the vaccine line
The country's premier public health expert said he believes things are finally improving.
"The finish line is in sight. That makes this surge different than the others," he said. "We can see the finish line, so we have the strength to keep going."
But that optimism comes with the surgeon general's strictest warning just days ahead of the Christmas holiday.
"This virus is incredibly unforgiving. Even if COVID doesn't impact you, you might not have room in the hospital for you," Dr. Adams said. "The numbers still aren't where they need them to be."
Dr. Adams took the opportunity to meet with health care workers as they get vaccinated. The first bit of immunity could be helpful in fighting another potential holiday surge.
The hospital serves a predominantly African American and Latino patient population, those most greatly impacted by COVID-19.
Tens of thousands of vaccines will re-stock all 35 Chicago hospitals and add Moderna's vaccine to their stockpile. And while they wait for vaccinations to become widely available, the marketing campaign to convince a skeptical public will need to be highly effective.
Adams also met with Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
"Literally today is the first day we are back down in both cases and positivity," Arwady said of Chicago's COVID-19 numbers Tuesday afternoon.
So far, more than 63,000 people in Illinois have been vaccinated. Those numbers do not include the city of Chicago.
Also, Illinois is expecting about 174,000 doses of the newly authorized Moderna vaccine to be delivered to hospitals on a rolling basis Wednesday and Thursday.
"We received total about 3,000 doses," said Dr. Richard Freeman, Loyola chief medical officer. "So we're about halfway through and hoping to get some more vaccines this week."
The vaccine could be even more crucial, experts said, as COVID-19 mutates into another strain which is now causing serious concern in the United Kingdom.
"There is no indication thus far that the new variant will be resistant to vaccine," Adams said.
Because of that, the federal government has not yet shut down any air travel between the U.S. and U.K.